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Sunday, 30 June 2013

In the Pool

    It was a great day yesterday as we celebrated Canada Day with a barbecue. All the kids were in the pool, although James took a while to decide to go in. He has to wear his floaties in the back yard, in case he falls in inadvertently.

   We had a great feed - BBQ spare ribs and sausages, roasted potatoes and corn on the cob. Everybody contributed a dish and we had "The Battle of the Slaws" -  two different coleslaws, but no winner declared. Both were delicious.

   For dessert I had dug out a rhubarb pie and a key lime cheesecake from the freezer but we also had Canada Day cupcakes which were a big hit with the kids.



  












 After dinner James eventually decided he wanted in the pool and they were all in for almost another hour while the non-swimmers cleaned up the meal and filled the dishwasher. By this time the water was warmer than the air outside so they were all reluctant to come out. A grand day was had by one and all!















Friday, 28 June 2013

A Good Book

   Just finished (in under three days) another very satisfying Donna Leon book, her latest, "The Golden Egg". It's a Commisario Brunetti detective tale, set in his home town of Venice, and comes replete with all the characters and plot lines that Leon's devotees have come to know and love.

   Rained all afternoon, quite heavily for a while, so the garden is once again very soggy. This is so unusual for this time of year but is certainly helpful in reducing my water bill! Now off to clean the pool as I have company coming tomorrow. The grandkids were in for a swim this morning, regardless of the inclement weather, but I have misplaced my camera, so no photos.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Yesterday

   Too much tennis to watch at Wimbledon yesterday, so no time for a post - several of the top seeds went out but still three Canadians in the mix. It will be interesting to see how far they can go. More of the same today.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Out at a Movie

   I went downtown to a funny movie this afternoon, one that had been recommended by a friend. It is called "The Angels' Share" and refers to the small amount of whiskey that evaporates from a cask before it is bottled. As you can imagine, it's about some Scottish tearaways who steal some very rare whiskey and all their adventures in the process. An afternoon well spent and it only cost $5! I went by subway - very convenient but busy on the way home as it was rush hour. Thank goodness I don't have to do that on a regular basis.

   Still hot and humid. We managed an hour of tennis this morning, once the rain stopped and we got the court dried, but not many people showed up.

   I picked up half-price sushi for dinner on my way home, salmon, delicious. However, I am quite addicted to soya sauce, for dipping, so will have to watch my sodium intake for the rest of the day. I picked a couple of leaves of the Swiss Chard to put in my lunch sandwich and I'm sure it's the first of many pickings - it's looking very healthy.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Still Hot

   Another scorcher. Started the morning at 24C and has gone up since then to low 30's. I had decided to stay indoors all day but, after playing on the computer for half an hour while I watched tennis from Wimbledon and playing in the basement for an hour, James persuaded me to go to the splash pad. Unfortunately, it was inundated with kids from a local school having their year-end party. So he played in the sand, making mud with a little friend, and occasionally venturing onto the splash pad to clean off.

    After getting thoroughly overheated he consented to go back home and we had a cooling off half-hour in the pool. He loved the water even though it was on the cool side. Needless to say, he was quite ready for his nap after lunch and had a good sleep. Back in the pool when Judy arrived so they both went home a little cooler but, I'm sure, more comfortable. It's still very hot so I will cook another quick meal tonight. I may even have a late swim once the sun is down!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hot Sunday

    It has been a scorcher of a day but now It has gotten quite dark and I hear thunder in the distance. I hope it brings the temperature down - it's 33C in the shade at the moment.

   The lavender is just coming into flower and smells delicious. The bees are crazy for it! I have managed to remove and replant a small cutting so will have two bushes next year.



   The bin of potatoes is looking healthy. I wonder what's going on beneath the surface? I also stuck in a piece of parsnip that had sprouted some leaves and it seems to be doing something. Who knows what will come of it.



   The rain has come and gone and, as predicted (or hoped) the temperature has dropped a couple of degrees.  Hopefully, if I open all the windows tonight, I may be able to cool the house down a bit.


   Time to cook some quinoa and broil a piece of salmon -  a nice simple meal for a hot day.

 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Vegetables

Garlic scapes
  
Swiss chard almost ready to pick
 
 
Lots of flowers on tomato plants



I hope these tomatoes grow a bit - they should be bigger than this!
 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Busy Thursday

   There has been so much rain recently that the garden has been growing like crazy and requires a big cleanup. So no time for photos. Yesterday I managed to cut the back grass which had been quite waterlogged for several days. Today I tidied up a couple of borders and there are weeds everywhere that need pulled.

   Thursday is tennis morning at my local courts. Not many turned up, 7 in total, so I will have to contact some of the regulars that have dropped off. Cathy and I played singles for a while, stopped for coffee then got a third to play Australian singles - slightly less tiring. One of our regulars is injured and another couple are on a trip until the end of July.

   I was in the pool twice today, once after cleaning it (all hot and sweaty so felt refreshed in the cool water) and once later in the afternoon when it was much warmer. It is looking great. I hope I can avoid the algae of last summer.

   I have started a new book today, "The Daughters of Mars" by Thomas Keneally. It's about Australian nurses sent overseas during the Great War (1914-1918). It is a good read so far.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

More Garden Stuff

   Today's post is all about my garden. Firstly, my small patch of rhubarb yielded 1 kg of fruit, enough to make a batch of rhubarb and ginger jam. It turned out really well but next time I might cut back on the ginger slightly. The recipe I used called for root ginger and stem or crystallised ginger (I used stem ginger). I think the root ginger, which I grated,  was a bit too much. There is still lots of rhubarb left, enough to make some strawberry and rhubarb jam and maybe a pie or crumble.





   Next, here are some more photos of peonies and roses, this time a climbing rose that flowers profusely and over several weeks. The peony is a pale pink and flowers just a bit later than the red one. It also lasts a bit longer as the buds open in stages.






   I roasted a whole chicken on Sunday and am still eating the leftovers. Yesterday I had a chicken salad as I was going out to a "Coronation Celebration" (anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953)  All the dances had some connection to the Queen or Royal Family. Then we had sandwiches and sweet treats.

   Today is chicken and rice - both leftovers but gussied up with an interesting sauce. I think I will use a balsamic vinegar and fig sauce called "Memories of Tuscany". Hope it reminds me of my trip to Italy.


  

Sunday, 16 June 2013

First Rose

   It was too nice a day to stay indoors yesterday (so no post) but today is raining so I have fired up the computer before heading off to Starbucks for my morning coffee. This is not a regular indulgence but I have a coupon for a breakfast sandwich which is about to expire - so, use it or lose it!


   I have several rose bushes that are about to bloom but this one is the first. The rose was perfect yesterday but, unfortunately, will have become washed out with today's rain. This particular bush only has 2 or 3 blooms each year. I'm afraid I don't treat my rose bushes to any TLC - they just have to survive on their own.

 





 The primroses also only last a few days and don't like the heat so become quite bedraggled as the summer progresses. But right now they are blooming nicely. Most of my garden is perennials that come into bloom at different times in the summer. The only thing I have planted in the back are nasturtiums (from seed) but no flowers yet.

   Well, it appears to have stopped raining so I will take my chances and head to the coffee shop before it starts up again.

  
 

Friday, 14 June 2013

At the Splash Pad


   It started out cool this morning but had warmed up enough by 11:00 a.m. to get us outside. All James could talk about was the Splash Pad so that's where we headed, this time making sure to take a towel and swimsuit. James also brought me my camera before we left so I felt obliged to shoot some photos of him playing in the water.

    It turned out to be a little cooler than Wednesday so he wasn't quite as keen to get himself wet. However, armed with a stick (to prod the jets and investigate the outlets that weren't working) he was happily engaged for quite some time. Then back to the playground for some sand play with a little friend, then a trip up and down the mountain a few times.

   One last trip to the playground resulted in a cut lip when he slipped on the climber and put his tooth through his lip. There was lots of blood but no crying, just some spitting. Thank goodness I had brought the towel to mop it up. He was pretty wiped out by the time we got home - asked for a "piggy-back ride" on the way home. So it was a fast lunch then up to bed for his nap. After that there was just time to water the vegetables and check out the potato bin before it was time for him to head home.

   I clipped some bushes out front for half-an-hour, got hot and sticky and took a quick dip. The water was marginally warmer and I managed to stay in for several lengths this time. It was very refreshing!

 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thursday Blues

   Luckily I am not a pessimistic person or today would have stressed me to the limit. The weather was against us this morning with on-and-off rain right through the hours we usually spend at the tennis courts on Thursdays. I had a job booked for the afternoon and trundled out to the car with 10 minutes to spare.

   Although the rain had dried up, another disappointment confronted me - no power in the car! I was forced to grab my bike and set off for the school, luckily quite close, but arrived rather hot and sweaty. I was greeted by the Principal whose first words were, "It's a difficult class" - not what a supply teacher wants to hear!
 
   Actually, they weren't so bad, also there were several interruptions which helped the afternoon to pass quickly. Once I got home (exhausted and sweaty again - no idea there were so many hills on that particular road) I called Toyota Roadside Assistance and had the problem fixed within an hour. Now I feel justified in vegging out for the rest of the evening. New episode of BBT at 8:00 p.m. Yippee!!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

First Swim

   It wasn't a very lengthy dip but I managed a couple of lengths while breathing heavily, to stop myself from screaming! The water was a chilly 20C (68F) but while that doesn't sound too bad for the air temperature, it's a different story when you are  immersed in it. If I am still keeping my blog next year, it will be interesting to compare the date of the first dip. I don't think I have ever been in earlier than June but may have been in a week or so closer to the beginning of the month. I had just finished cutting the grass and felt quite hot and sticky and the water looked so appealing.

  James and I spent the morning at the park, he climbing, running, rolling and jumping, and me watching and helping when his adventures veered towards the dangerous. We had a picnic on top of the "mountain" while the boys and girls had recess at the school, then we went down to their playground after they went back to class. This is a special treat for James as he is not usually allowed to visit that playground. We finished the morning at the splash pad where he got quite soaked and needed a complete change of clothes. On Friday I will certainly take a towel and his swimsuit and my camera - he was hilarious, dodging the different sprays and fountains!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Garden Blooms

Peonies

   My garden is all about pink today. Not the wishy-washy pink of the bleeding hearts but more of a deep cerise, quite vibrant and bright. The wigelia and fuschia will be around for a while but the peonies, unfortunately, only last a few days. As you can see they are already drooping and in danger of shedding all their petals! The rain of the last few days really brought them on in a rush.

   I have another peony bush but the blooms are a much more muted pink and don't have such heavy heads so seem to stay longer. They are still in bud but should open next week.

Wigelia
Fuschia






Monday, 10 June 2013

Easy Pickled Onions

   I can't remember where I found this recipe but have a feeling it was from Stefano Faita's cooking show. James and I watch it on the days he's with me - for some reason he loves the show (although when asked he often says he wouldn't eat any of the recipes) and I must admit Stefano is an amusing character. His approach to cooking is quite casual and he does produce healthy, interesting dishes, and makes it look super easy.

   I love pickled onions and have tried several recipes with mixed success. However, this one is so easy, and the end result so tasty, that they don't stay around long. Instead of leaving the onions whole, they are finely sliced and suitable for spreading on barbecued meats as a condiment. Although the recipe recommends using them within 1 week, I have eaten them after a longer time and they are still good. Instead of the suggested seasonings, I substitute about 1 tsp. of pickling spices.

Pickled Red Onions

1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. peppercorns
2 large red onions, thinly sliced

Bring vinegar, water, sugar and seasonings to a boil. Add red onions and remove from heat. Let cool and keep in fridge for up to one week.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Quiet Life

   I am having a quiet day at home today after a late night - out dancing my feet off at the White Heather Ball - got home after midnight, very unusual for me. Then had trouble unwinding and heard the birds beginning to chirp before I finally fell asleep!

   As a result of the late night  I slept in until 10:00 a.m., also unusual for me, and sprang from bed (well, not literally, as my feet were still sore) because the men's final at the French Open was already underway. I watched the last two exciting sets (Nadal won, not unexpectedly) and then a replay of the Women's Final from Saturday which I had missed.  I finally got dressed around 12:30, did some light housework, then went back to bed for a nap. Talk about the easy life!

   This afternoon has been easy too. I picked some more rhubarb and used it in a cake which I will now have to try to stuff into my already overcrowded freezer, but will try a slice first. I had a very lucky buy yesterday at a Bake Sale. I had spotted a yummy looking Key Lime cheesecake, but decided it was too expensive at $12.00 However, just as I was leaving, all baked goods were reduced to half price and it was still unsold, so I grabbed it joyfully as I knew it was a real steal at $6.00. It is also in my freezer for the next time I have company. Plus the proceeds from the bake sale were going to charity which made it doubly blessed.

   Cut the front grass later in the afternoon then retired to the lounger to relax with a glass of juice (not really) and my favourite cheese and chutney on crackers. Dinner is in the crock pot and will be ready whenever I decide to eat. Such is life, my way!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Trimming

   Trimmed the hedges in front this aftenoon, now you can walk up the path without brushing against wet bushes. It wasn't as big a job as I had expected and the satisfaction of having it done is tremendous. There's still a bit to do. One of the bushes is still in flower and as the blossoms have a heavenly scent, I was reluctant to cut them back. So that will happen once they have finished blooming. I can't decide if the clippings can go in the composter but since it is half empty, here's my chance to see how well they degrade.
Before
After - so tidy!
 


Friday, 7 June 2013

After the Rain

   Got in some tennis this morning - it has stayed dry - but my bones are aching today so, after one set,  I was quite happy to join the crowd in front of the TV in the clubhouse. A marvellous match between Nadal and Djokovic - we were all but one rooting for Nadal who won after 5 exciting sets. The last one went to 10-8 as there is no tie-break in the final set of Grand Slams.

   Need to start trimming the bushes by my front steps as they are all but meeting over the path, but they are still a bit too wet. Will get to it tomorrow or Sunday. Tonight I am going to a reunion of teachers from a school I taught at almost 20 years ago. I'm not expecting to remember too many of the others as I was only there for one year but, what the heck, you never know who will show up at an event like that.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

More Rain

   Raining now and the temperature is only 13C. I have had to fish out some winter clothes as it is so chilly.

   Went to the tennis courts this morning for the Thursday Social but only one other person turned up. It was very cool and windy but we hit for an hour which was all I could manage. . Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy in the morning so that makes it kind of "iffy" for any tennis then. However, I will go anyway unless it is pouring down. At least we can have a coffee and watch the French Open. It's the Men's semi-finals. Today the Women played for the final spots - Serena won easily but Maria had a much harder match. Their final goes on Saturday and I'm betting on Serena to take it.

   The Exec. committee of the SSCD group met this afternoon and we finalized the program and arrangements for our Christmas Dance and set the dates for next season's meetings. We are going full out to make the Christmas Dance a huge success as we have decided it will be the last. Numbers are dropping off each year and it is getting harder and harder to break even. But we are determined to go out with a bang. We have the hall and the band booked and have divvied up the jobs so that everything is organized well in advance. It will be a great night or we will die trying!

   The White Heather Ball is on Saturday and we have one last practice tonight to make sure all the dances are at least somewhat known. This one is out in Oshawa, but the meal is excellent, making it well worth the drive. I must remember to take my camera!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rhubarb Recipes

   Now that  I can start picking my bountiful supply of rhubarb, here are two recipes that I have unearthed from my binder collection. These are recipes that I have gleaned from many sources and it is fascinating to read through them and remember where and from whom they have come. I even have one my daughter pencilled in when she was around 8 or 9, complete with creative spelling and one ingredient that is completely indecipherable, with the comment "Yum-yum!".

Rhubarb Fool

8 oz. fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut in in 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbspns. orange juice
2 tbspns. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt

Bring rhubarb, sugar and orange juice to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Partially cover pan and cook until rhubarb is very soft, about 6 minutes. Mix in liqueur and refrigerate until cold, about 15 minutes.
Alternate layers of rhubarb mixture and yogurt in 2 large wine goblets or dessert dishes. Using a small knife, swirl mixtures together. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 hour.

Rhubarb Bread

Loaf
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tbspn. butter, softened
1 tsp. grated orange zest

Combine brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg and orange zest in a large bowl. Mix well.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture, mixing until smooth. Fold in rhubarb and pecans. Spread batter in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
Prepare topping by combining ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tennis and more tennis

   Tennis in the morning at Bond Park - it was my turn to man the board. We had about 45 people, coming and going so the 6 courts were filled from around 9:00 a.m. to 11:30. I managed to get in 4 sets over the course of three hours and it was very pleasant playing - not nearly as hot as last Friday. However, I was pretty beat by the time I got home.

    More tennis tonight at Bridlewood House League - some confusion as to the start time, 7:00 p.m. or 8:30. I will bike over at 7:00 and see what's what. If I'm not playing until 8:30, I will come home, have dinner and return then. Otherwise dinner (leftover Butter Chicken from Sunday) will have to wait until I finish playing. I will be on Court #3 (the easy court) so it shouldn't require expending too much energy.

   I have just finished cutting the grass in the back yard. Everything is very green what with all the rain we have had recently, and the grass has been growing full blast. No sign of any action in the potato bin but the tomato plants have lots of flowers - should be a good harvest there.

   The pool is nice and blue now, thanks to the administrations of the "pool guys". However, the heater needs servicing so there's no way I'll be in the water any time soon - it's a chilly 67F (18C)!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

First Harvest

   I'm relaxing with the laptop on my knees as I watch the French Open. Roger Federer has just staged a strong comeback against Giles Simon. It was close for a while. Now Serena Williams is demolishing an Italian player, Roberta Vinci. It's really "no contest" so I expect to see her in the final next weekend.

  


 Earlier today, in between rain showers, I picked the first rhubarb of the season. After a rainy month it has grown like crazy so there's lots still there. The stalks are rather skinny but the fruit at this time of year is good for pies and crumbles. Later in the summer I will use it for a relish.

    That's garlic poking up through the leaves - not sure if I planted it there in the fall or if it somehow migrated over the winter! 

  


 





The pie turned out well but I will put it in the freezer for the next time the family are over for a meal. The secret I find, with most fruit pies, is to sprinkle some flour in the pastry case before adding the fruit. That makes for a nice thick filling. I have to admit to using a pastry mix, but really, the mix is just as good, if not better, than I could make myself. My biggest failing, especially with rhubarb is not making it sweet enough, so today I added 2 tablespoons more of sugar than I thought was necessary. We shall see if that turns out to be sweet enough.